Interview: Bollington East and Central Ward Labour Candidates John Place and Judy Snowball

  Posted: 05.05.21 at 13:01 by Alexander Greensmith

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It is the local elections this Thursday 6 May, and Macclesfield Nub News have requested articles interviewing all candidates for the elections on Bollington Town Council.

We spoke to Labour’s Judy Snowball and John Place, running for Bollington’s Central and East Wards respectively.

Judy is a former solicitor, currently in her second year at Salford University, training to be a psychotherapist. She has lived permanently in Bolly since 2016, having lived there part-time from 2010.

John moved to Bolly 34 years ago to become Director of Human Resources at Macclesfield Health Authority. He is now a Director of a local Macclesfield financial services company.

Macclesfield Nub News: Why do you want to represent East / Central Ward on Bollington Town Council?

John Place: “We live in a beautiful place. The Sunday Times says it’s possibly one of the best places in Great Britain to live. I’ve had a very happy time here, raising my family. Bollington has given me a lot - I now want to give something back.”

The pair with Police Commissioner David Keane. The Labour Police Commissioner has served Cheshire since 2016, and is seeking re-election on Thursday. (Image - Macclesfield North Labour)

“I have been on the Town Council before [John won a by-election and served from 2018-2019] so I know a lot about it. But what I want to do, is make sure that we have improved services, we have good facilities and very importantly for the population of Bollington, we would protect, safeguard and act as stewards for our local environment.

Judy Snowball: “Central Ward is an absolutely unique environment. It is a wonderful ward with a diverse community. I’ve been able to talk to and listen to residents and businesses for all the time I’ve been here. We have the restaurants, pubs and cafes here and great small businesses.

“I was a Bollington Resilience Action Group Street Warden [started by the Town Council] throughout the pandemic and so I know very closely how people have managed during the pandemic. I am also aware of how businesses have struggled and want to bounce back as we emerge from it.

“I believe I’ve got a lot to offer Central Ward and I can support residents and businesses in a more public role to represent their needs to the council.

“As a lawyer in the criminal justice system, and training psychotherapist, in both of those professions I have learned some amazing skills which I can bring to Bollington and the community.

Judy Snowball hopes to balance serving Bollington with the final year of her psychotherapy degree at Salford University. (Image - Macclesfield North Labour)

“That includes listening to people, to understand their needs and to translate that into representing them and taking action to fulfil those needs to the best of my abilities. That includes, for instance setting up the free legal hub that I’m hoping to do.

“We both have a strong public service ethos, that we have both shown in our working lives and our lives in the community - and that’s what we want to bring to Bollington Town Council - our unique skills.”

Macclesfield Nub News: What are your key policies?

Judy Snowball: “Firstly, it would be the greenbelt. A lot of concern has been expressed about threats to the Greenbelt. I’m on Save Bollington Greenbelt, I have been for some time. I was part of a drive to set up a stall outside the Co-Op in December, where, socially distanced, we engaged residents to discuss the consultation on the two areas of Bollington Greenbelt that were under threat from being put into land safeguarded for development from 2030.

“We believe 200 responded from that engagement. I have been on meetings speaking to both our councils, in April, to urge policies that would prevent Greenbelt development.

John Place has been personally affected by flooding in Bollington. (Image - Macclesfield North Labour)

“[I recognise] people on our doorstep are very concerned about our green space because that’s why we live in Bollington.

“It is a beautiful place. I would also say as a badger vaccinator I am very concerned about wildlife, and about what I am hearing on the doorstep about development of Greenbelt, concerns about traffic congestion, and flooding with inappropriate [Greenbelt] development.”

John Place: “It is green issues again for me. This has been the biggest most hard-hitting issue where really for the past three or four years we seem to be fighting every year over new plans for inappropriate housing development. This is not a NIMBY issue it is a “safeguarding” duty as Judy said.

“We passed a Neighbourhood Plan in 2018. 89% voted for that. It was a signal for them to say this is what we want the neighbourhood to be about.

“That was 2018. It is 2021 now. Maybe we need to review that and we could review that with the Town Council and with citizens to say does it need an update.

Judy Snowball hopes Bollington will vote Labour on Thursday's local elections. (Image - Macclesfield North Labour)

“The people have spoken through referendum. And what you find in Bollington is residents are engaged, committed, giving their time to issues so let’s mobilise their energy and motivation.”

Judy Snowball: “We’re also aware how much residents value the Household Waste and Recycling Centre, Bollington Tip. We’re delighted that it’s been formally confirmed to be safe from closure and that it will continue to be a vital environmental resource in our town."

John Place: “Another policy is improving lives for our young people. We feel we should involve them in our community more. We don’t think a youth club is the total answer - instead we want to ask young people what do THEY want.”

Judy Snowball: “We think we can do more for young people. We want to get them involved in the conversation, show them that they are an important part of our community too and provide more Council-supported events.”

John Place: “We’ve got some superb young citizens and maybe young councillors of the future. Let’s get them engaged.

“Transport is also a key issue - we don’t have a bus service on a Sunday, after eight on a Thursday Friday forget it - you can’t get over to Macclesfield for a pint.”

Macclesfield Nub News: John please can you tell me about your hope to be involved with the Town Council Resilience plan, and your emphasis on flood protection?

“Flooding is a big concern to residents. The Town Council seems to have gone for a wider total Town Resilience plan. If we’re elected, I’d be more involved in that.

“I live on the Green on High Street - the marketplace. Before the pandemic, there was terrible flooding on Oldham Street the fire brigade had to get involved. There was severe flooding because all of the rainwater and the heavy downpour just comes down off the hills and comes into a Victorian-based infrastructure.

“So, pipes were exploding and everything. I was literally an inch short of my apartment being inundated.

“Sadly quite a lot of the older houses and pubs have cellars, so when the rivers rise they get overwhelmed and the cellars are actually full. It devastates people’s lives. The insurance issues, and the horrible emotional impact.

“Fair to say lots of volunteers got involved but I’d kind of want to get more involved put some ideas in, like a practice flood run and other measures that we can make. I believe our Green colleagues are saying put branches and beaches up on the hills to try and store and stop the water coming down. There are environmental mitigations that can be made.

“I know there are limitations on money. But are we future-proofed on flooding? - that is my big question.”

Macclesfield Nub News: What specific road conditions do you wish to help improve and why?

John Place: “We could do some simple things to greatly improve the Transport Plan. Have some signage at the entrances to the town. We support 20’s Plenty - asking drivers to slow down. We support Transition Bollington’s work. With Lorries and vans, someone is going to get killed. We want to calm traffic in the main parts of Bollington. And the state of the roads are terrible, if you are a cyclist you’ve got no chance. I went around recently and videoed many potholes and sunken grids. If I get elected I will lead a Pothole Watch scheme for the whole of Bollington.”

Macclesfield Nub News: Judy, please can you tell more about your ideas to improve accessibility around the town?

Judy Snowball: “I’m a member of the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion working group since it started. We have active meetings every four-to-six weeks.

“I’m interested in the whole range of diversity and inclusion and the council has been very supportive on this. I’m particularly interested in accessibility and disability issues because my mother was physically disabled, and through my work I am very aware of mental health issues. We received a letter from a gentleman whose wife is physically disabled. We want to walk with him in Bollington to view areas of potential improvement for accessibility and people being able to enjoy Bollington safely and actively.”

“Another accessibility initiative is the Bollington App - which might be a hub that would increase more accessible signage to support businesses, residents and visitors. If you had people coming on boats for tourism, they could find out where to find supplies for their children, changing places, support for disabled visitors, food supplies. But also for Bollington residents as well for better ways of enjoying the amenities.”

Macclesfield Nub News: Will you be supporting continuing online meetings?

Judy Snowball: “We favour a blended approach because personally I have very much benefited from the online Bollington Town Council virtual meetings. I’ve been attending for several months so I’ve been able to go my online college, and been able to go straight to the council meetings. For accessibility it is great for people who can’t get to the Town Hall to have public access to our democracy.

“I also think public engagement in the flesh is important. Perhaps a flexible and consultative approach asking our residents what they need because there will be advantages to both sides.”

John Place: “We need to recognise new ways of working. I’ve sat in many council meetings and there was nobody in the public gallery. I’ve been on Zoom meetings where we’ve had 50 people at the meetings.

“But I also think it is important to recognise the savings on travel, on emissions. It is an hour to Sandbach for a Cheshire East Council meeting. We’ve got to get out of lockdown and COVID first, but a blended approach to meetings and new ways of working with the public should be reached.”

Macclesfield Nub News: Finally, what is your favourite thing about Bolly?

John Place: “It is the people. They are friendly, committed, fun. They work hard and play hard. It would be a delight to represent them. It is a real community here. Small town - big ideas.

Judy Snowball: “I’ve really enjoyed Bollington Festival. It is distinctive to Bollington and we really punch above our weight. We’ve got some big names in terms of artists and entertainers and local community volunteers and local figures. I’ve been here for two and was involved in the last one. It is a diverse community and bigger than it looks.

“Our canvassing has shown many beautiful nooks and crannies. I am looking forward - if elected - to have a monthly surgery where residents can speak to me and share their views and I get to know Bollington even better.”

East Ward Labour candidate John Place is running against independents Helen Ellwood and Allan Williams, along with John Le Moignan for the Conservatives.

Central Ward Labour candidate Judy Snowball is running against Gareth Williams for the Liberal Democrats, and Barrie Malpas for the Conservatives.

You can find more about Labour’s campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

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It is the local elections this week on Thursday 6 May, and Macclesfield Nub News have requested articles interviewing all candidates for the elections...

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